Ex­plod­ing Chrome­book com­puter ship­ments

Daily Trust - - DIGEST -

In some parts of the world par­tic­u­larly North Amer­ica the ship­ment of Chrome­book com­put­ers is ex­plod­ing at this time, as com­puter man­u­fac­tur­ers are speed­ing up the build­ing of equip­ment that take ad­van­tage of the Google Chrome op­er­at­ing sys­tem (OS), in what could in a sense be seen as (the com­puter man­u­fac­tur­ers) hedg­ing their bets. That is, just in case the OS turns to be a fierce com­peti­tor to - or even sup­plant - Win­dows, which is the de facto OS that drives the ma­jor­ity of PCs and lap­tops.

I have writ­ten a few ar­ti­cles on Chrome­books in this col­umn in Daily Trust, as in 28 April ,2014 and 18 June, 2012. Taken from these ar­ti­cles, “Chrome OS is the en­gine that drives Chrome­books, which are light, in­ex­pen­sive lap­tops specif­i­cally built for on­line com­put­ing. That is, these com­put­ers were in­tended solely as a con­ve­nient way for you to ac­cess the In­ter­net, so that you can work with your data (movies, videos, pic­tures, etc.) that are stored on the cloud specif­i­cally on Google Drive. Chrome­books are not suit­able for in­ten­sive use, such as pow­er­ful com­pu­ta­tions or gam­ing. In the base­line Chrome­books, if you are off­line, the com­puter is vir­tu­ally use­less! How­ever, newer, im­proved ver­sions are try­ing to add more off­line ca­pa­bil­i­ties so you wouldn’t feel like toss­ing the books out of the win­dow when you lose In­ter­net con­nec­tion.”

The fail­ure of Win­dows 8 prob­a­bly en­cour­aged con­sumers to try out Google’s al­ter­na­tive to Win­dows OS - and per­haps spurred Google’s ef­forts on Chrome OS, with some dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion to boot. The dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion can of course be found in the web fo­cus of Chrome OS. Other com­pet­ing OSs to Win­dows in­clude Ap­ple’s MAC OS X, Linux, and - in the works TmaxOS, the prod­uct from South Korea on which I re­ported a few months ago.

Chrome­books were not built for heavy-duty tasks, but ba­si­cally as hard­ware to give you ac­cess to your data or soft­ware ap­pli­ca­tions lo­cated on the web. In the orig­i­nal de­sign of Chrome­books, you couldn’t in­stall and use your fa­vorite pro­grams such as the MS Of­fice Suite or iTunes. So, you are stuck with what­ever ap­pli­ca­tions run on Chrome OS. Also, you couldn’t do much off­line. Both the ac­tive mem­ory and the stor­age on the hard drive are quite scanty, and Chrome OS needs a more ad­vanced file man­age­ment sys­tem. Al­though there are vir­tual pri­vate net­work tools for ac­cess­ing your of­fice in­tranet, most com­pa­nies may not have one that works with Chrome OS. Chrome OS does not al­low you to plug in a printer to print a doc­u­ment! The avail­able wire­less print­ing ca­pa­bil­ity in the sys­tem works only with se­lect print­ers.

The Chrome OS of course has some de­sir­able at­tributes: It in­te­grates very in­ti­mately with the cloud. There­fore you can ac­cess your doc­u­ments from any Chrome­books. As I stated in ear­lier ar­ti­cles, Google has made a fuss about the se­cu­rity of Chrome OS. Also good for se­cu­rity is the fact that the Chrome OS is not nearly as big of a tar­get as An­droid or Win­dows so far fewer hack­ers are tar­get­ing the op­er­at­ing sys­tem. That sit­u­a­tion may change, though Google is try­ing to make Chrome OS as se­cure as it can. Google’s own pitch on Chrome­books: “Chrome­books are au­to­mat­i­cally kept up to date, so you’ll al­ways have the lat­est virus pro­tec­tion, along with the lat­est fea­tures like Voice Search. Best of all, your Chrome­book won’t slow down over time.”

User feed­back on Chrome OS is mixed: some say they love it, many more say it is “crappy.” How­ever, Chrome­books are sell­ing - at least at a rate that is much higher than that of stan­dard PCs or lap­tops. The vol­ume of sales is com­par­a­tively low of course. Ac­cord­ing to Agam Shah of IDG News Ser­vice in his 21 July 2016 ar­ti­cle, “In 2015, Chrome­book ship­ments to­taled 6.5 mil­lion units, so ship­ments this year could be in the 7.5 mil­lion to 8 mil­lion range. About 1.65 mil­lion Chrome­books shipped in the first quar­ter of 2016; sec­ond quar­ter num­bers weren’t yet avail­able. The de­vices, though, are still a small frag­ment of the over­all PC mar­ket, in which unit ship­ments are ex­pected to reach 290 mil­lion units this year.”

There are re­ports that in the past year, Chrome­books have been ris­ing to the top of Ama­zon’s list­ing of best­selling note­books, mak­ing Chrome OS a real con­tender that should be ac­knowl­edged. Ed­u­ca­tion stu­dents buy­ing the com­put­ers and in­sti­tu­tions in­stalling them in class­rooms - is be­lieved to be the big­gest mar­ket for Chrome­books so far. Busi­nesses are not yet on board! More­over, Chrome­books are not yet pop­u­lar in emerg­ing mar­kets: Asia, Africa, and South Amer­ica, per­haps be­cause of the re­quire­ment for In­ter­net ac­cess. As In­ter­net ac­cess and the band­width sit­u­a­tion im­prove glob­ally, the adop­tion of Chrome­books will be much more wide­spread.

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